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Sea, sand and sunshine...
but what's missing?
A super stroll...
and somewhere where they make home-made chocolate!
That's it for today - I'm off!
And what better way to start a walk than with a relaxing boat trip?
Just a 20-minute hop across the water,
Caldey Island is a popular day trip destination.
Well-known for its monastery, monks and lavender perfume,
it's also a super place for a sunny stroll.
My guide around the island is Jonathan Miller,
whose family, would you believe, run the chocolate factory on the island.
Jonathan and his brother, Matthew, grew up on Caldey
and went to primary school there.
He's now a third-year medical student
and, though the family all now live on the mainland,
he still returns to the island
to help with the chocolate business during his summer holidays.
Because of the low tide today,
the boat leaves from the pontoon on the beach.
At higher tides, it goes from the harbour.
-Good morning. How you doing?
-All right, thanks.
The trip takes about 20 minutes
and, during the height of summer, eight or nine boats
shuttle back and forth, carrying up to 40 visitors each journey.
So what's it like for you, then, going back home?
It's quite a strange feeling - obviously, Caldey has been...
You know, I've always considered it home. Um...
But I've been coming back and forth for a long time now,
obviously had to sort of move off part-time
to the mainland for school,
cos it closed when I was eight years old.
Um, but it's always going to be a special place for me
and I do love going home - especially on a day like today!
Well, this is my first ever visit to Caldey,
so I'm really looking forward to it.
Well, this is gorgeous. We could be in the Caribbean.
Yeah, we certainly could. This is Priory Bay.
This is, sort of, low tide now,
but when the tide comes in, you can see it goes right up to here.
Now is probably the best time to be on it.
Does it ever get busy here?
Em, to a certain extent, but it's never heaving.
It's never busy, busy.
There's always space
and you'll always be able to find somewhere nice and quiet.
So here we are in sunny South Pembs -
just three miles across Caldey Sound from Tenby.
Our figure-of-eight route takes us up from the jetty
past the monastery and small village,
calling in at the old Priory on our way to the lighthouse.
From there a new extended section leads to West Beacon Point.
Then back to the village and another loop around the woodland walk,
returning to the jetty before we miss the last boat back to Tenby,
having walked a peaceful and easy-going four-and-a-bit miles.
Do many people live here, then?
Yeah, there's a dozen or so monks full-time.
There's obviously the island community as well.
They help out with certain things - running shops
and things like that, making the chocolate.
Looking after guests who come to the island.
-And they live here full-time?
-Yes. Yes, the majority of them do.
-Well, I wasn't expecting this!
-Yep, this is the monastery.
Very striking, isn't it?
Yeah, it was designed by John Coates Carter, I suppose the leading
light of his time in the Arts and Crafts movement.
The building was finished in 1913.
It wasn't actually intended to be the final monastery.
It was going to be a boys' prep school
and there was going to be a much larger, grander monastery
built up through the woods.
Unfortunately, the Benedictine monks at the time ran out of money
and this was converted to be the full-time monastery.
It reminds me of some of the buildings you see
in Portmeirion in north Wales.
As well, obviously, as the abbey,
the monks are well-known for their perfume.
This is the perfume shop just here.
It started off in the 1950s when they were selling
bunches of wild flowers such as lavender and gorse.
It went on from there, really.
The lavender perfume, especially, today is world renowned.
I'll have to get some for my mum.
'At various points along our walk today
'we've arranged to meet some of the monks.
'First up to take us to the old Priory
'and St Illtyd's church is Brother David.
'The Cistercian monks who live permanently on the island
'have a strict daily routine beginning very early, at 3.30am
'with the first prayer service of the day.
'Monastic life is not a cushy number.
'It was relatively recently, in the 1920s,
'that the Cistercian Order took over from the Benedictines,
'whose old Priory and St Illtyd's Church next-door,
'with its leaning spire, date back to the 14th century.'
It does feel very old, but very beautiful as well, here.
Yes, this is the sanctuary of the church we're coming to now.
Amazing floor made of pebbles.
Yes, they'd be pebbles from the beach.
What's this old stone here?
This is the Ogham stone.
'Ogham was a very early form of writing in Ireland
'with an alphabet of simple strokes along a line.'
As you see here, it's a Latin inscription.
But here you see the Ogham markings. It's faded now, broken away.
But you can see from the markings, perhaps you can see one line,
two lines, three lines.
They formed an alphabet.
'Ogham stones are mostly found in Ireland,
'but also up the west coast of Britain,
'carved by Celtic tribes who settled on both sides of the Irish Sea
'about 1,500 years ago.
'Whilst we now head off towards the lighthouse,
'we leave Brother David to attend a prayer service
'and to get on with his gardening and librarian duties.
'Most people who visit Caldey
'manage to get as far as the lighthouse
'and, even if you don't go any further,
'it really is worth a stroll up here.'
This is the lighthouse, just above Chapel Point here.
It's been here since the early 1800s.
They say the original lighthouse was built on the site of a chapel.
It works in conjunction with the lighthouse over on Lundy.
Together, they guide the shipping in the Bristol Channel.
Either side of the light tower
are two identical old lighthouse keeper's cottages,
where Jonathan and his family lived for a while.
I remember the noise made by the windows.
There was a howling noise whenever the wind came up.
Yeah, it was a lovely place to be.
You can see for miles from here, can't you? Across to Gower.
Yeah, that's the Gower over there, then Worm's Head.
Even the north Devon coast, a little bit hazy, and Lundy Island.
Yeah, that's Lundy Island over there.
-Shall we carry on?
-Yeah, let's go for it.
'Waiting for us at a junction with the cliff-top path
'is Father Daniel, Abbot of the monastery -
'the main man here on Caldey - head of the household.
'Originally from Belgium, he was a monk in Germany
'before coming here 23 years ago.'
-Absolutely gorgeous today.
-But, of course it's not always like this.
-You are lucky today.
Really lucky. It's exceptional.
But the weather can be quite different here.
Some very severe weather.
But, actually, I don't mind too much severe weather. I like it.
It energises me. Then I really go out for a brisk walk.
-You like walking in a force 10, do you?
-Yes, I do!
How do you feel about the number of visitors who come to the island?
Do you think there's a conflict between the peace
and tranquillity that you have here?
No, not really.
It may appear as a conflict, but they come
from 10.30 in the morning till about 5.30, 5.15 in the evening.
There's also a part of the island that the visitors see,
There's a substantial part that we keep for ourselves.
Apart from that, I think it's very important that we meet visitors
and listen to their story, their experience in life.
Otherwise, there's always a danger to take things for granted.
We should not do that.
We're now at West Beacon point, the southwestern tip of the island,
which, until recently, was out of bounds to the general public.
I'm so glad that at last the visitors are able to experience
Caldey as an island.
Before that, it was only from the jetty to the lighthouse and back.
Now they really can experience and breathe in the healthy,
fresh sea air.
-And these wonderful views.
-Definitely. I'm delighted.
And I'm so delighted that you took time to come and see us,
Derek, but I'm afraid I have to go.
It's only half an hour away, but I have to go to my prayers.
-Wow, what a beautiful beach.
-Yep, this is Sandtop Bay.
And there's no-one on it. Not a soul.
No, unfortunately, this part of the island isn't accessible to visitors.
Why is that, the tide?
Yeah, unfortunately there have been one or two tragic incidents
here over the years.
There's a very strong undercurrent here.
There's a few caves over there, isn't there?
Yeah, a lot of them were explored by the monks in the 1960s,
and found remains and tools and things like that, that they think
might date back as far as 5,000 years ago or something like that.
-What's that island called over there?
-That's St Margaret's Island.
You can see the ruins over there, the old quarrying houses
used to house the quarry workers.
The island itself is out of bounds now. It's a bird sanctuary.
-It is a gorgeous spot here, though, isn't it?
-It is lovely.
Looking across to Tenby, and you can see the hills as well.
Yeah, it's beautiful.
'And now for the bit I've been looking forward to all day -
'The monks started making chocolate here on Caldey in the 1980s,
'and the business is now franchised to Jonathan's dad.
'This is where it's made.'
Dad? We've got customers.
-Welcome to Caldey.
-Great to be here.
Brilliant sunshine you've brought with you as well.
-Right, can I have some chocolate?
'Spanish Cistercian monks were in fact making chocolate
'way back in the 1500s, when cocoa beans and a recipe
'were sent back from Mexico to a monastery in Spain,
'and so started the 500-year-old custom
'of chocolate making by the Cistercians.'
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
This lot should keep me going for a while.
'Leading us on the next short section of our walk
'is Brother Teilo, who became a monk at the grand old age of 68,
'more than 50 years after a visit to Caldey
'that made a lasting impression on him.
'He finally gave in to the call of monastic life
'14 years ago.'
So here we are at the old school,
which has been closed now for about ten years
because the pupils went down to two or even one.
Yeah, that's right. I was actually the last student here.
They had to close the school,
because the next year I would have been the only one on the island.
The council just couldn't afford to fund one-to-one teaching.
-That's a shame, isn't it?
-It is a shame, yes.
-Yeah, it was sad.
Very sad indeed.
-Heading up to the Statue of Samson now.
St Samson, the patron saint of the island.
Very important to us.
'St Samson was the second Abbot here back in the sixth century,
'before he left the island to work as a missionary
'in Cornwall and later Brittany.'
In Wales, I'm afraid, we've forgotten about him
to a large extent, except on Caldey.
Here he's very precious.
We have our annual holiday on his feast day - 28th of July.
-Do you get a day off?
-We do, yes, in the monastery.
It's a holiday for us.
'St David's - the island's parish church -
'stands on a pre-Christian burial ground
'probably going back as far as 2,000 years.
'Today, the simple wooden crosses mark the graves
'of both monks and islanders,
'but the Celtic burials may have been of people from the mainland,
'in keeping with the Celtic belief that islands represented a bridge,
'or stepping stone to the afterlife.'
-What a beautiful little church!
-It is, isn't it?
Look at those stained-glass windows.
-They're beautiful, aren't they?
One of the Benedictine monks in the early 1920s, Theodore Baily,
was a remarkable stained-glass artist.
If we look up there, above the church,
you can see the Tree of Life Window,
which he put in.
You can see the three trees, and the sun above,
perhaps symbolic of the three crosses on Caldey.
'We say farewell to Brother Teilo,
'and Jonathan and I head along the last leg of our walk -
'a short loop around Caldey's woodland.'
-How beautiful are the daisies?!
-Yeah, they're lovely, aren't they?
Perfect time of the year for them.
It's a great effect with the light, the sunlight,
shining through the trees.
Here we are now at Paul Jones Bay,
named after the famous 18th century pirate Paul Jones.
Born in Scotland, Paul Jones was a ruthless marauding pirate
and he often moored up in this sheltered bay,
hidden from the mainland, to take on a supply of fresh water.
When it got a bit too hot for him around here,
he want across the Atlantic, over to America,
and is credited with being one of the people
who founded the American Navy.
An amazing tale of villain to hero, if ever there was.
'Well, I'd love to stay a little longer,
'but Jonathan needs to get back to the chocolate making
'and I need to catch the last boat back to Tenby.'
-See you again.
-See you again. All the best.
Well, one day on this gorgeous island is just not enough
to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life.
So I'll definitely come back another day.
And, besides, this won't last long.